HSA Team

Jim GatacreJames A. F. Gatacre, President

James A. F. (Jim) Gatacre is a NAUI Instructor and Course Director (Instructor Trainer). In 1972, while attending college, he sustained an injury to his right arm that left it paralysed. He started Scuba diving in 1973 as a means to recover emotionally, to re-establish his self-image that had been severely damaged, and in 1975, to help organize and teach the first Scuba course for people with disabilities at the University of California Irvine (UCI).

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of California at Irvine. Jim taught Marine Biology for two years at the Dana Point Marine Science Laboratory, Orange County Department of Education (California).

In 1981 he founded the Handicapped Scuba Association. By 1982 diving industry leaders began disabled divers workshops where Jim became the spokesperson for diving with disabilities.

Working closely with the industry's leading underwater educators from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) & NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), he learned the fine art of developing Physical Performance Requirements, the bedrock of safe underwater education.

He took over 2 years to complete the HSA Physical Performance Requirements and Multilevel Certification, the key to certify people with a wide range of disabilities as 100% Scuba Divers.

Encouraged by PADI & NAUI, he wrote the HSA Instructor Manual and HSA Instructor Training Course (ITC). He taught the first HSA ITC in 1986. In 1990 he wrote the HSA Dive Buddy Manual and HSA Dive Buddy Course (DBC). In 1993 he trained and certified the first HSA Course Director (Instructor Trainer).

Jim has made two films with Jean-Michel Cousteau, Freedom in Depth in 1983, a California Diving Classic & To Fly in Freedom in 1992, filmed in Fiji featuring Jean-Michel, his Father Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and HSA Divers from 6 countries.

Awards and Special Recognition

Jim was chosen as one of 30 Interesting Alumni featured in University of California Irvine alumni Magazines' 'Special 30th Anniversary Issue' for his work with HSA.

People Magazine, January 1995, featured Jim as 'Teacher' in a two page article about his life and his work with HSA.

Jim was awarded Scuba Schools International prestigious '1993 SSI Platinum Pro5000 Diver' certification.

Jim was the recipient of 1998 National Association of Underwater Instructors 'Outstanding Contribution to Diving' award, the highest award given by NAUI, for his work with the Handicapped Scuba Association.

Jim was the recipient of the 'American Flag' flown and folded underwater by Wounded Warriors for his support of Veterans at the 2013 Wounded Warriors Project Dutch Springs Certification Event.

Jim's other life;

Jim served 3 years in the US Army as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division (Class 80) and 505th Airborne Battle Group, Mainz Germany. 1960-1963

Following his service he started work as an apprentice carrying shingles and worked for 8 years as a journeyman roofer. After graduating college he began selling and marketing a new roofing product. This was very successful and is where the money came from to fund the HSA start-up.

Jim was also a Quality Control Manager for an emissions study of the molecule MMT, a replacement for lead in gasoline. (Fuel is now boosted by MMT6) He was responsible for organizing the QC department, writing the Quality Control Manual, hiring and training the 9 college graduates that worked for him.

Jim also managed to squeeze in a year working for Otis Elevator rebuilding the elevators in the Detroit Free Press Building, having fun up on the high wire!